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MPLS recognises the added value that an interdisciplinary approach can bring to addressing research challenges and has therefore set aside money to introduce the ‘Networking and Interdisciplinary Fund’ (NIF).

The NIF offers modest awards to enable networking and interdisciplinary activities, predominantly across MPLS (activities involving researchers from other divisions are welcomed, but the majority of activity and PI/'Network Champion' must be from within MPLS).

Awards cannot be used to fund research projects.

Support available

Large awards: >£10k to kick-start or support a major network where there is a critical mass of activity or significant potential resource.

Key aspects/outputs of networks must include:

  • Links to external priority areas or themes that are likely to attract significant funding;
  • Drawing together Oxford's research community in a large common area in a comprehensive and representative manner;
  • A web interface and single point of contact for people outside the University (researchers, policymakers etc,) to link with researchers in a specific field and to provide presence in the global research community.

A suitable academic ‘Network Champion’ who is willing and able to invest significant time should be identified to lead activities.

Example costs that can be requested include:

  • Website development
  • Administrative support
  • Academic buy-out
  • Workshops/meetings

Existing networks can apply for support, but they must demonstrate what value this additional funding will add. Proposals for multi-year funding are welcome, however applications must include identified milestones and continued funding is subject to satisfactory annual reports.

Small awards: <£10k to support earlier stage networking activities likely to lead to new interdisciplinary research initiatives. Example activities include:

  • Workshops, seminar series, symposia
  • Activities to determine potential new areas for collaborative research

Small award proposals are not expected to be longer than 12 months.

Eligible costs

Awards can be requested to meet 100% of directly incurred costs.

Academic buy-out: If your application includes a buy-out of academic time, it should make explicitly clear the justification for this, including details of what the time will be bought out from.

How to apply

NIF processes are intended to be light-touch. Applicants must complete and submit their application via the IRAMS system

As part of the application you will need to complete and upload a short case for support which you can download from IRAMS

Assessment criteria

The panel will include the following criteria in their assessment of applications:

  • Quality: excellence of the plan to facilitate interdisciplinary activity and systematically form new connections.
  • Link with potential future funding calls: potential for the network to address areas likely to receive significant external funding support in the next few years.
  • External representation: the extent to which the activity will generate a web presence of Oxford's activity in the area.
  • Value added: the benefits the network will bring, potential to form a step-change.
  • Critical mass: demonstration that there is a constituency in need of coordination.
  • Breadthcovers all relevant areas or departments/Divisions (including matching support).
  • Leader and core team/steering group: the ability of the team to achieve the objectives of the proposal and the strength of the leadership.

Assessment process

Funding decisions will be made by a multi-disciplinary panel of MPLS academics..


Submit applications on IRAMS by Wednesday 6th May 2020 (12 noon).


Please contact Kathleen Dolan if you have any queries about the Fund.